When refusing to add a new Respondent to an existing claim, is it relevant that the Claimant failed to go through Acas Early Conciliation with them?
Yes, held the EAT in Patel v Specsavers Optical Group Ltd.
The Claimant issued proceedings against two companies, neither of which was his employer, despite the clear wording of his employment contract and the dismissal correspondence, and despite him also being a director of the employer.
The Claimant applied to add the correct employer but his application was rejected, in part because he had also failed to participate in early conciliation with that correct employer. The tribunal accepted that he had told ACAS that he was not sure of the correct employer, but found that ACAS had also advised him of the importance of checking it carefully. The EAT rejected a perversity challenge against the tribunal's refusal to add a party, as well as a late submitted ground of appeal that conciliation against one party is sufficient.
The EAT colourfully rejected a separate ground of appeal that the Claimant had two employers, due to the "comedic" and "slapstick" potential that could arise. To support this proposition, the EAT cited a 1826 case called Laugher v Pointer, Laurel and Hardy, and the play One Man Two Guvnors, starring James Corden.
Thanks to James Medhurst of Fieldfisher for preparing this case summary.